Dare To Teach! (By: Terry Price)

My Colleagues

Value of Education

"We all came into this profession for more important reasons than just money.  We are in education because we know that we have much more to share with our students than just content.  We are all positive agents of change, and we all hold the potential to influence individuals' lives in a significant manner, to make them aspire to great things and to hopefully one day make a difference in the world.  The day we forget this is the day we lose sight of what education really is all about."

 

-Terry Price

SPEAQ on Campus Montreal 2018

I am really looking forward to the 2018 edition of SPEAQ on Campus Montreal!  Coming up this weekend, February 3rd at McGill University.  As always, it will be a day filled with many moments of selfless, meaningful, and positive collaboration, new connections and networking opportunities, and lots of reasons to simply enjoy quality time spent together for all the right reasons. 

Thank you so much to all members of the organizing committee and all other volunteers for making this happen. 

I also look forward to presenting a new workshop tailored to the event. It is always an honor and a true pleasure. 

See you Saturday everyone.  Don't forget your smiles!

Terry

New Presentation - SPEAQ on Campus Montreal 2018

Teaching + Positivity =

Teaching + Positivity =

At the end of the day being positive is an integral part of a productive, happy life and career, especially in the case of teachers.  This presentation will explore the importance of remaining positive when it comes to the day to day life of a teacher, to planning lessons and preparing content and activities for students, motivating students by encouraging and fostering critical thinking, and remaining motivated despite the challenges inherent in the teaching profession.

SPEAQ on Campus Montreal (2018)

Honduras Summer of 2017: HELTA Honduras TESOL 3rd Annual Convention (Amazing!!)

Facebook Post (Terry Price August 21) 

An amazing experience in Honduras with the HELTA Honduras TESOL team and oh so many wonderful, passionate educators. Thank you for putting your trust in us, and thank you for all you have shared! I will be back soon if you will have me again. Till then, much love, all my admiration, and heartfelt respect.

LikeComment

Great People and Great Connections!

Stayed in San Pedro de Sula

Thank you!!

Grazzia Brought us to Tela Beach! (Priceless... Love you Grazzia!)

Billboard Promoting the Event (Beside my Best Friend and Colleague Stephane Lacroix)

Honduras Billboard _Beside my Best Colleague and Friend Stephane Lacroix_.jpg

Thanks for keeping your promise with me Stephane!  It was an honor sharing these moments with you and I look forward to the adventures and experiences to come!

July 2015 - Cuba and More: What a Wonderful Life and Beautiful World

I am sorry once more for being so slow to post some news since my last entry. I must say, to my defense, that this Winter was a rather busy one and that many projects and many new adventures kept me running around and trying to remain at the top of my game. Overall, the 2014/2015 academic year treated me well and as usual it was a pleasure meeting many new people, working with many new colleagues, peers, teachers to be, and also as usual, I consider myself a lucky man to do what I do and to share it all with such wonderful individuals.

Some of the highlights I would like to outline have helped me to continue to grow on both personal and professional levels, and while all the rest of my experiences have been meaningful and relevant, some things simply marked me more than others since I last felt the need to share with others who might be interested in reading about what I have been up to these past days, weeks, months. I was lucky enough to share with many people again this Winter. Like many other years, I traveled around the province and was part of the SPEAQ and SPEAQ on Campus circuit. What energy and passion we all experienced together this year at McGill, l’Université de Sherbrooke, l’UQAT, as well as in Quebec City at the big SPEAQ Convention. Wow! I was also lucky enough to visit a wonderful second grade teacher’s classroom throughout the Fall term. What an eye opener and just what I needed at this point in my career working with future teachers. Seeing a well-organized, passionate teacher in action, who happens to use lesson planning to her full advantage (the proof is in the pudding as they say), was exactly what I was looking for this past year, and it was beautiful to simply be part of a classroom filled with smiles, laughter, and a contagious willingness to share and communicate in English. Priceless! To add to all of this I was also really happy to participate in CASLT’s World Congress in Niagara Falls in March. Over 2000 people from all over the world attended, I was surrounded by many familiar and beloved faces, and the splendor of the scenery and a little downtime amidst a storm of stress was taken full advantage of. Trust me. These and many other snippets, there are many of them and I will not take too much time or space to share them with you here, have all been the reason for my silence. I am certain anyone reading this will understand and forgive me.

The most marking experience I had to wrap up this year was an incredible professional, personal trip to Holguin, Cuba. You heard me… Holguin Cuba! I was privileged enough to be invited to give the keynote speech at the Mini Big WEFLA Conference in Guardalavaca, and was dually honored to be invited to give a three and a half hour class session to students in the Education and Translation Program at the University of Holguin. I was invited by Vilma Paez, the incredible woman who organized everything. It is through a strike of luck that Vilma found me via my blog and my entry about my teaching philosophy, which she chose to share with her students. Words cannot render justice to the experience, as it was a truly humbling and touching one. I was really happy to spend this privileged moment with such inquisitive and committed individuals, and I consider myself blessed for the moments we shared and the words we exchanged on that day, in their classroom. Thank you for making this once in a life time experience a reality, and I hope to see all of your again someday.

Thank you Vilma for making this happen. Thank you to your wonderful husband Salvador, as well, and everyone else who helped to organize and make possible such a successful convention. I was impressed by your hard work, everyone’s great commitment to the improvement of higher education, as well as many other really interesting topics of discussion and issues that were focused on and which we all face as educators in an ever-changing world. I hope I get to return very soon, and I hope to remain in close contact and to collaborate with all of you for a very long time to come.

I will end this post by sharing part of an e-mail message an appreciative student once sent me. In it she wrote the following:

“Hi Terry,

I would like to thank you for the wonderful semester we had with you. Thank you for being who you are as a teacher and as a person. Your energy and positive attitude are very inspiring and confirm my beliefs about teaching, it is not only about the subject matter, it is love, passion and willingness to be part of your students' lives to guide them to the right path. You made Thursday afternoon class so fun, enriching and much more. I feel lucky to have been your student.

Thank you again.”

I quote these beautiful words not just in pride. I quote these words of kindness because I want to send the same message out right back at her, and I send it right back at everyone else who has been part of my life story, all this time.

Truly,

Terry

Holguin, Cuba

IMGP1235.JPG
IMGP1235.JPG (1.3 Mo)

January 2015: New Year - New Challenges - New Connections

Hello everyone.

First off, let me begin by apologizing for my long moment of silence. I have been quite busy since my last post, as most of us are at times in this wonderful but hectic world of ours, and I have not taken the time to update people on my personal/professional projects. As one of my students mentioned last week, without the benefit of knowing otherwise, someone could easily imagine that I am still somewhere in Peru. So, here I am confirming that I have been home since the end of August, 2014. I wouldn’t mind being in Peru, somewhere on the Northern Coast, in the heat and sun, but since that is not my reality I will be happy with what we have here right now. Cold and snow (don’t like at all), but amazing family, friends, and colleagues (love them all so much).

Lima and Peru TESOL 2014 were yet another amazing experience. As usual, and as I always say, I consider myself so lucky to meet people from all over the world in such contexts. This time around I rekindled old friendships with people I met in Peru the first time I participated in a Peru TESOL event, and I also met more incredible people from Japan, the U.S, Mumbai, elsewhere here in Canada, and various other places in the world. All my new connections with these individuals were memorable and meaningful. Simply awesome! I thank all of them for the way they contributed to making the experience what it ended up being.

Otherwise, things are still in full swing here in and around Montreal. Still teaching at McGill, UQAM, and UQAT in the three universities' Education Programs, and still enjoying every minute of it. I will be contributing to some SPEAQ on Campus events this Winter, presenting a new workshop at RASCALS in the Spring, and I will be presenting Teaching Revolution at CASLT’s World Congress of Modern Languages: Collaborating Across Languages and Boarders, in Niagara Falls. Another great opportunity and venue to share my ideas and to simply spread the message when it comes to the empowering potential of the simplest of acts.

For people attending any of these upcoming events, I look forward to seeing you, possibly meeting you for the first time, to sharing with you, and to continuing to enlarge my network of colleagues and friends.

Best wishes to all and take good care until next we meet!

Terry

 

Me and my Friends in Lima

1.jpg
1.jpg (30.8 ko)

Lima, Peru (View from Barranco District)

Lima_ Peru.jpg
Lima_ Peru.jpg (37.3 ko)

Me Presenting (Lima)

Peru.jpg
Peru.jpg (35.8 ko)

Peru TESOL 22nd Annual Convention -Teaching Revolution Going to Lima!

I am happy and proud to say that I will be heading back to Peru this summer. I can’t wait! I was invited by Peru TESOL to give Teaching Revolution as a plenary session at their 22nd Annual Convention. The convention is in Lima this year, so I will get to see some new places while getting reacquainted with the great friends I made the last time I visited Peru, in Chiclayo. To top it all off, I will be representing three of our province’s universities while also representing CASLT alongside my colleague and friend Stephane Lacroix.

Life is perfect, I am blessed, and I could not ask for more. Thank you to everyone who makes all of these things possible, and thank you to those I love most for letting me take time off from our precious family time to go share my ideas with others abroad as well as at home. I will keep you posted upon my return.

Peru TESOL here I come! 

Travels to the North: Kawawachikamach and Schefferville- A Most Memorable Experience

From April 22nd to May 3rd, 2013, I traveled way up North to give an intensive course in the small Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach (a short distance from Schefferville). I was there as a representative of McGill University’s First Nations and Inuit Education Department, which is part of the Faculty of Integrated Studies in Education. I basically gave a 39 hour course in 11 days, and while it was a rather intense experience for all involved, especially my poor students and the eventual cognitive overload they had to obviously deal and put up with, it was a complete success and a truly rewarding experience all around. As usual, I consider myself lucky to have been part of something quite magical and off the beaten track. I always dreamed of visiting the true North of our province, having read so many adventure narratives involving it as a central setting, and more than the landscape, wilderness, and an overwhelming sense of the minutia of human existence that awaited me, I was privileged enough to get a sense of the great openness and hospitality of the people who inhabit the land almost beyond the trees. I shared these two most memorable weeks in the company of inspiring individuals, whether it be my wonderful host at the McGill Sub-Arctic Research Station (thanks for everything Oksana, you are amazing!), my new friends Jim, Jessica, Melinda, and the amazing group of people I met in and around town, or of course my students. I was touched by your willingness to share, your pure candor and trust, and it was a true pleasure meeting all of you and spending time with you in various ways work related and not.

I am back home now and I waited a week before writing this post. I wanted the experience to sink in before trying to put things into words, as well as the crazy weeks preceding the trip (working almost every night for ten days, not much sleep or family time), the flight there and seeing places familiar to me from past trips but in such a new and unfamiliar context hundreds of feet above the Earth, mud, a major snowstorm in the month of April, followed by more mud, and much, much more. I thought doing so would help, and I thought I would find it easy to write something clear, coherent, and to the point by now. I realize, however, that as usual I have been so positively affected by the experience, like in Peru, Costa Rica, Rouyn-Noranda, in and about Montreal at UQAM, UQAT, McGill, and even back in my beginnings at Collège Charles-Lemoyne, that I would have great difficulty actually “putting pen to paper” in order to render true justice to all the wonderful moments I lived and the wonderful people I made affinities with in Kawawa and Schefferville. Although I was somewhat hesitant to take the contract at first, not wanting to leave my beautiful daughter and spouse behind for two weeks, now that it is over (and even while I was there), I did not and do not regret my decision one bit. I am proud of the things my small group of students accomplished in the short time I spent with them. I congratulate them all for their hard work and their successes in my course. I was amazed by their resilience, their great work ethic, their values, their stories, their smiles, their laughs, and most importantly, I consider myself lucky to have gotten to know each and every one of them. I enjoyed every minute spent in our small classroom in Jimmy Sand Memorial School, and I look forward to an eventual reunion when they come visit Montreal in the Fall to continue their studies. Don’t forget me group, and thanks once more for the unforgettable experience!

Yours Truly,

Terry (Also known as Rabbit Mouth)

Me and My Students

IMGP0126.JPG
IMGP0126.JPG (1.2 Mo)

McGill Station (Where I Stayed)

IMGP0109.JPG
IMGP0109.JPG (1.1 Mo)

Where I Stayed (Awesome Experience!)

IMGP0097.JPG
IMGP0097.JPG (1.2 Mo)

Other Friends Wanted to Come to Class Each Day!

IMGP0005.JPG
IMGP0005.JPG (1.2 Mo)

Teaching Revolution: SPEAQ 2013

I got great news this past weekend. I promised myself in the Fall that I was going to put a new presentation and workshop together for SPEAQ 2013. As I have been giving the same presentations for a while now, and I have told people to keep posted for new presentations to come, the moment was now right for me to take it up a notch and to take things to another level. I therefore submitted an official proposal for a new presentation to SPEAQ, actually more than a presentation, a project and one major idea. I was really glad to hear that it was accepted! I know that I have said this many times before in my posts, but thank you once more for your continued support SPEAQ! You do so much for ESL teachers in this province, and I am always proud to be part of your annual convention.

My new presentation is called Teaching Revolution, and I will be presenting it as a plenary speech on the morning of February 15th, 2013. I can't wait to share with all of you and to get this movement started. I won't tell you more for now, as much work still has to be done before the dialogue can truly begin. Once things are in place and I can tell you a little more, however, I will keep you posted as usual.

Keep up the hard work one and all, and please keep on inspiring members of the next generation to do their part in making this world of ours a better place. You are so much more important than you might sometimes think!

Sincerely,

Terry 

Teaching Revolution

Teaching Revolution. Why Not?

Let's see what we can all do together to change the teaching profession as we know it...

Possibly more to come at SPEAQ 2013. I will keep you posted. I promise.

Truly,

Terry 

Journal Entry 1: Bittersweet Departures

Original Blog Entry by pleasecomehome @ 2012-11-13 – 20:50:05

 

Wow! Seven years into my experience at l’Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, and I am going to take my first break after Christmas. This is not the first time that I have enough work back home in Montreal to do so, but this is the first time that I decide to take the leap and to throw caution into the wind. The break from the weekly traveling will be well needed, if not at least well deserved. I look forward to coming home every night to my two loves and to having to pack only one work bag every evening. Goodbye for now to taxis in the morning, taxis in the afternoon, goodbye for now to small planes and bumpy rides, goodbye for now to nineteen hour round trips on the bus and to eating junk food in Mont-Laurier, goodbye for now to waking up every week, even if just once, at four in the morning, goodbye to many a thing that have been part of who I have become these past seven years. This said, there is a flip side to the situation. Saying goodbye to all of the quotidian and mundane details that have been such an important part of my daily life for quite a while now also means saying goodbye to many a precious thing. I am grateful for the friends I have made here in Rouyn Noranda. I am grateful that I got to spend my evenings in great company and great spirits when far away from those I love most at home. We will always remain in close contact Chris, Mel, and Steph. You have become my dearest friends. You have become brothers and a sister to me. Thank you for everything you have done for me. I am a lucky man, although time does go by too quickly. I am grateful for the generosity and the great spirit of many of the characters I have crossed paths with since I was but a wee lad of twenty-eight years, even the strange and wonderful people who sat next to me during some of those long bus trips and plane rides. I have had my share of movie moments. Trust me. And last but not least, how lucky I have been to share four full years, three times each, with three wonderful cohorts, not missing one beat, not missing one semester. I got to see their evolution as professional beings. I got to witness their growth as teachers in the making. I got to say hello to them every semester, and I also got say a fond farewell when they finally went out into the world to teach.

I am writing this as more of a journal entry than anything else. My students get to do so on a regular basis and it seems to act as a great form of catharsis for many of them. It is my turn now. I need this now. I just announced that I am not coming back for the first time in these oh so interesting and exciting seven years, full of ups and full of downs, but important and relevant nonetheless. I decided I need a break, and that is what I shall take. This said, I will now start teaching in the TESL Program at UQAM in the Winter of 2013, and I will continue to teach at McGill as well. The future looks bright, and I look forward to focusing my time and energy on my teaching and students in Montreal. I am lucky to have come across the opportunities I have had in the past years. UQAT is responsible for many of them. They gave me my start in the TESL world, and I will always remember this.

Farewell for now my home away from home. I will be back to visit as often as possible. I will return in the guise of a good friend, of a repeat visitor strolling down memory lane while also creating a lot of new memories, but I will truly always remember Rouyn Noranda with a teacher’s heart. Even if only for a little while, as we never know what the future has in store, I will miss you dearly until the next time we meet where it all began, with students and classroom alike.

Sincerely,

Terry

 

UQAT (Where a big part of my present life all began.)

Rouyn-Noranda (Centre / Lac Osisko

Rouyn-Noranda

SPEAQ 2012: Thank You SPEAQ!

Just wanted to let everyone know, or anyone interested I should say, that I will be giving my two favorite conference presentations at the SPEAQ Conference in Quebec City. I will present "The Art of Destabilization" and "Confessions of a Literary Mind". This will likely be the last time I give them at SPEAQ, as I will then move on to other things and develop new presentations in the coming year. I look forward to sharing, as usual, and thank you SPEAQ for making this possible for all of us. Happy fortieth anniversary!

Thank you everyone from Peru TESOL 2012!

I am sitting in my hotel room waiting to go home. Montreal awaits and I will return with so many wonderful stories to tell. Thank you to everyone I met in Chiclayo, Peru. You are all incredible individuals and you made the whole experience unforgettable! Peru should be proud to have such people representing it, as you have likely shown me the best that your country has to offer. I look forward to returning as soon as possible. Thank you Nefdy and the rest of the TESOL team. Your hard work and great willingness to share everything Peruvian with us definitely marked me for life. You made me feel right at home and I greatly appreciate everything you have done for me and my fellow presenters. For all of you who came to my presentations, my colleagues from different places in the world including Peru, and those of you who simply came to meet me to say hello, thank you as well. As I said in one of my presentations, certain affinities tie us all together through time, space, and history. This experience was a perfect example of what comes of such affinities when everything simply falls into the right place. I am truly grateful and I consider myself blessed to have met you all. Until next time!

Most sincerely,

Terry 

Pimentel

IMGP0442.JPG
IMGP0442.JPG (1.2 Mo)

An Outing With My Wonderful Hosts

IMGP0458.JPG
IMGP0458.JPG (1.2 Mo)

My Teaching Philosophy

Original Blog Entry by pleasecomehome @ 2009-09-27 – 16:34:04

 

This semester I have been thinking of the act of teaching from many angles. Five days before the Fall semester began I received a phone call from the university and was asked to give a "Portfolio Project" course to a group of students in the fourth year of the BEALS Program. Having worked with the group every semester for the past three years, I simply could not pass up the opportunity to work with them again. One of the advantages of working with the same students from one semester to another is that a teacher really gets to see their progress and to plot it. Another advantage, which some could view as a disadvantage, is the fact that students also get to see their teacher's evolution or the lack there of. This forces the teacher to constantly rethink his or her approaches and methods and to strive to always be at the top of his or her game. What an interesting challenge it has been!

To come back to the portfolio project. Early on in my course I asked the students to begin thinking about who they are as teachers or student/teachers and to begin putting things into words to prepare them for the main focus of the project. They must think about "who they are" and what they want to accomplish as teachers if they are to fasten and present a professional image of themselves. Having done so quite efficiently and having shared their respective teaching philosophies with the rest of the class, my students then turned to me and asked me to share mine as well. Having not done the exercise myself, I took the easy way out and answered that they knew me well enough by now to tell me themselves what my philosophy was.

I decided to make up for my response and have therefore put things into words on the next page.

The following is dedicated to my students.

I believe that teaching is a very complex profession. It is not only a profession but is also a vocation, an art, a way of being which is based on the person that we hope to be or hope to become. I remember where the journey began for me. I remember the first model who inspired me in one of my cegep English classes as well as the individuals I would encounter later during my undergraduate and graduate studies at Concordia University. How I longed to do what they did, how I longed to inspire others to seek knowledge, passion, and meaning in their own lives. How I longed to challenge students and to introduce them to new thoughts and ideas. Teaching, as I knew it then and as I know it now, was for me something that could help change the world or at least help to make it a better place. Such naivety may seem strange, but I still believe in this today. Teaching has become many things for me since I first stepped foot in a classroom in the role of a teacher and became the one who gets to call the shots, in the best sense of the expression of course. I have since become master of my own successes and of my own failures, and in many ways I have become the master of my students' successes and deceptive moments as well. I am there for them when they need to learn. I am there for them when they want to learn. I am there for them when they are not receptive at all. I am there for them when they think they despise me most. I am there for them when they realize I am only trying to help. I am there for them when they are sad. I am there for them when they need someone to just listen or to simply share a few slices of life. I am there for them when they are proud. Through it all, most importantly, I am all theirs and I am always willing to weather the storm and stress to then help guide them back to a better place.

There are many things we can say about teaching. I believe we say a lot through what we do as professionals and as individuals. In other words, I honestly hope that my teaching speaks for itself. I hope that my transparency is appreciated by my students. I hope my students realize how much time and energy I put into giving them the best learning experience possible, sometimes under very difficult circumstances. I aspire to become a model for them. I hope I have achieved this goal. Will they remember me four years from now? Will they remember me ten years from now and smile? Will I have marked their lives in a positive manner? Or will I have done all of this in vain? No matter what my legacy (whether I leave one behind me or not is another question), I will never regret having taught the way I taught and having taught the things I taught. They are part of who I am and can never be changed.

I love teaching and I always will. I once dreamed of being a singer, a painter, a film director, a writer, a professional athlete, an environmentalist, a world adventurer, but I opted for a different career choice and became a teacher. I will never regret my choice. Teaching is an art after all and if I am the artist, students you are my muse.

Yours truly.

Terry Price 

SPEAQ 2010 & 2011 - Literature in the ESL Classroom: Oh, The Places We Can Go!

We all know that teaching literature, or teaching through literature, in a second language setting can be a rather daunting task, and this even at the best of times. We all realize that not all students and teachers are fully equipped for doing so. We also all know that many students, not all mind you, would rather sit down and watch a movie for two hours than to sit down and read a book for ten or more. Can you imagine that! In all seriousness, these are all things that can be easily overcome. Knowing how to surmount such obstacles is the first step to effectively incorporating literature into our everyday teaching. Trust me. I am speaking from personal experience. I have witnessed the beauty of students basking in the light of their own intelligence; born anew after learning that literature has so much more to offer than just words on a page. It is a sublime experience and a true epiphany of sorts. Now, let us begin!

Many teachers admit to not being comfortable with using literature in their classrooms for various reasons. This lack of comfort is usually associated to common misconceptions related to teaching through literature in general. For example, many teachers feel that a lack of academic training means that they cannot and should not jump into projects that demand in depth knowledge of how literary works function and how they can be properly used as sources for projects, lessons, and activities. Past experiences with literature also feed many teachers’ insecurities. Such as difficult courses they may remember taking during their own high school, cegep, or university years, for example, or the frustrations usually felt when teachers did not appropriately prepare them for reading, analyzing, discussing, and writing about texts. Some teachers just do not read much outside of their work hours and therefore do not read many texts that they themselves may consider as “real” literary works. And others are simply not inclined to add any work to their already very hectic twenty-first century schedules. Many of us can most likely identify with at least one of these factors. In fact, I agree that many of these factors definitely do cause problems when it comes to teacher motivation and the basic desire to use literature in the second language classroom. I’ve faced the same problems before. We must nonetheless ask ourselves one important question: what are we missing out on if we simply opt for not using literature (in whatever sense of the word we are most comfortable with) in our everyday teaching practices? So, what’s the answer?

As one of the greatest English teachers I have ever known wrote in response to this and other questions that I asked him:

Using literature in the ESL classroom offers the best opportunity to make the reader more familiar with an outward existential experience other than his own. The second language is but a simple vehicle to opening a cultural world not yet necessarily familiar to the reader. As well, the texts presented can be a way for the reader to seek a deeper meaning by interiorizing the reading experience to better fit his own life experience. The journey through the written word will transcend the simple reading and help the reader achieve a greater confidence and familiarity in facing the real world in which he lives within the context of the second language.

One must not underestimate the power of the reading of a pertinent text in the shaping a young reader's better understanding and relevant interaction within the reality that is his own experience of everyday life. Literature is a map to new worlds and unfamiliar experiences, yet it can become a reassuring beacon to follow on the way to personal growth and achievement. Thus, the reader may better find ways to reassure himself in his trek along the path of life.

Learning more about who, why, when, where, and how will help a reader grow beyond the mundane and quotidian. The reader will surely better enjoy his more familiar world and learn to yearn to discover and share in the less familiar worlds of others.

Maurice Price

In her very useful guide for any teacher interested in taking the leap, Literature and Language Teaching: A guide for teachers and trainers (2007), Gillian Lazar points out that there are almost as many ways of approaching literature and its distinctive features as there are ways of defining what literature actually means. While Lazar states in her guide that literature “is used most effectively with learners from [the] intermediate level upwards”, she also suggests that literature can and should be used at lower levels as well (Lazar, xiii). As Lazar makes clear in her introduction, literature is a teaching tool that once properly tapped into makes for a wide array of interesting and very rich learning experiences, and this from the most basic language-based activities for short lessons to more complex and in depth week-long or term-long projects.

The following notes were taken from lists that Lazar draws up in order to remind us of the complex nature of using literature in the language classroom:

Three major approaches to literature can be used: the language-based approach in which literature is used in order to focus on specific aspects of functional or formal language; the stylistic approach in which stylistic analysis takes place through the exploration of different language features; and approaching literature as content, in which literature, and literary culture or history become the main focus of lessons, projects, and activities.

For each approach teachers must first decide what they can and should do with their students according to yet other issues to be considered. For instance:

What level are most of the students at when it comes to the target language?

What background do students have in reading and understanding literature?

Do students come from different cultural backgrounds and how can this effect how materials are selected?

What of students’ general “literary competence”, as Lazar and others term it, and what must be done in order to prepare students for working with certain texts according to the approach being used?

How much time does the teacher and his or her students have in order to do projects or short activities and how much preparatory work must be done before even beginning projects or activities?

And what links can be made between texts being explored and other cultural or social artifacts?

On top of all these points we must then consider other things and think even further of what exactly we wish to look at with our students. The process never seems to end!

What specific elements will you focus on?

What themes will you look at and cover?

What genre or genres will you look at and what are some conventions associated to these different literary genres?

What to use? Short-stories, novels, newspaper articles, poems, essays, tales or nursery rhymes, songs, classic works, contemporary works, historical works, fictional works, and the list goes on.

What problems might come up and what are some solutions for solving such problems?

Of problems and solutions we must be aware. The following is a list of possible problems and solutions when working with short stories, as drawn-up by Lazar in her section “Anticipating student problems when using a short story” (Lazar, 75 on). These factors are also generally applicable to other literary forms, and it is therefore always useful to come back to such a list during the initial, preparatory phase of any literary activity.

Inadequate Reading Strategies:

-Tendency to focus on every word rather than general meaning.

Making Interpretations:

-Confidence to make own interpretation.
-Coping with ambiguity.

Motivation:

-Lack of confidence.
-Content of stories uninteresting.
-Short stories not relevant to passing exams in
English.
-Don’t read much in own language.

Comprehension:

-Following the plot.
-Understanding the characters.
-Understanding vocabulary.
-Understanding the role of the narrator.

Understanding of the Cultural Background of the Story:

-Context and significance, history.

The following are suggestions for coping with such possible problems:

Pre-reading activities:

-Help students with cultural background.
-Stimulate student interest in the story.
-Pre-teaching vocabulary (useful, meaningful,essential words, which students will hopefully reinvest).

While-reading activities:

-Help students to understand plot.
-Help students to understand characters.
-Help students with difficult vocabulary.
-Help students with style and language.

Post-reading activities:

-Help students to interpret text.
-Understanding narrative point of view.
-Follow-up writing activities.


Once things have been worked out, the sky is the limit!

Despite the sometimes difficult and complex nature of incorporating literature into a second language classroom, or any educational setting at that, if you plan in advance and do a little homework before planning and beginning lessons, projects, or activities, the journey will definitely be worth while. Annick’s (my co-presenter Annick Beauséjour) project and projects I have done with my own students in the past speak volumes of how as educators we can reach our students more through literature and English culture than any other means at our disposal. In my experience I have learned that literature is a great many thing: literature is a gateway to the English language itself in its multifarious forms; literature is an open window to whole new worlds as it is to our planet and its many cultures and peoples; literature is living history and writing it; literature is an opportunity to learn more about our students and their individual intellects and identities; literature is pure imagination; and most importantly, literature can be so much fun!

Thank you very much to all people who attended our presentation at SPEAQ 2010! I apologize again for the technical difficulties we experienced. I hope you enjoyed yourselves nonetheless. Please always remember that we are supposed to teach, but that we are most importantly also meant to inspire!

A great big thank you to the very able-minded Annick Beauséjour as well, without whom the presentation would not have been possible.

Oh, The Places You Will Go!

News Since Costa Rica

A great big hello to anyone who has visited my blog since the ACPI-TESOL convention in Costa Rica. What a wonderful experience! I worked with topnotch presenters and the people who were in charge of the convention, as well as all members of the audience, were so welcoming and friendly that such an experience will be quite hard to beat in the future. I hope I get to go back next year for the 50th annual convention and to have yet another incredible time.

I just wanted to let everyone know that I haven't forgotten about Tamara's documents and about updating my own presentation information with details from Confessions of a Literary Mind. I have last minute course preparations to take care of and I will get to all details related to my blog as soon as I am done organizing the coming semester. Everything will most likely be added on by the end of next week.

Thanks again to anyone and everyone who has visited my blog or attended my presentations. I have the time of my life every time I get to share my ideas with you and I look forward to doing so again in the future. Things are looking up so far, as I have been invited to present at the SPEAQ Conference in Montreal in November 2009.

Best wishes until next week.

Sincerely,

Terry Price 

Costa Rica!

Costa Rica.jpg
Costa Rica.jpg (49.7 ko)

Introduction to my Presentation and to my blog

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Terry Price. I am a teacher in the BEALS program at l’Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Before working at l’UQAT, I taught English as a second language, fine arts and cinema to students at the high school level. Before becoming a full-time teacher, I worked for the Mount Saint-Hilaire Nature Centre and McGill University’s Gault Nature Reserve. I studied English literature at Concordia University at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and my main interests lie in English literature, the visual arts in general, as well as issues related to conservation.

This blog was originally meant to be a quick reminder of things I discussed in a presentation I gave at l’UQAT in March 2008 and at the SPEAQ Convention in Québec on November 15th (I will be giving the presentation again at McGill’s SPEAQ Campus, on January 31st, and at Université Laval on February 7th, 2009). In my presentation, entitled The Art of Destabilization, I propose ways of incorporating the visual and fine arts into the English classroom. I discuss the notion of destabilization, as well as various ways of introducing students to the world of art in a creative, original, and minimalist manner.

For those who were present in Québec, I hope this blog will act as a good reminder of my presentation’s main themes. For those who come across this blog by chance, I hope my simple ideas provoke new thoughts and new ways of seeing the act of teaching.

The following is an abstract which outlines the main issues related to The Art of Destabilization:

Some people believe that today’s adolescents have lost touch with all notions of “true” culture in a classical sense. Constantly bombarded by different aspects of popular culture, such as the Internet, many examples of the extremely commercialized film and music industries, and mass media, it is normal that today’s youth face new pressures and complex realities. This presentation is meant to force us to think of ways to reconcile students of this new generation with ideas usually associated to higher academic circles or the past (such as abstract art, surrealism, film language and analysis, personal worldviews, the importance of critical thinking, and the problematic nature of meaning, representation and interpretation), in a way that helps our students see the world around them from a critical perspective.

The Scream

The Scream.jpg
The Scream.jpg (30.5 ko)

Montage Project

One of the projects I discuss in my presentation is a simple montage project that offers many different possibilities. The end result of the project is a visual montage that depends on a purely visual language, as opposed to traditional language (writing, words, symbols, dialogues, and so forth). I tried to use as many recyclable materials as possible, and therefore used old projects that had already been done with Bristol boards and old magazines that people no longer wanted. After the fact, however, I found an even more simple and ecological form for the project. I realized that PowerPoint is the perfect tool for creating a straightforward montage using digital images. With PowerPoint you can simply copy paste images and transform them accordingly like a film montage, as opposed to the original format which necessitated cutting and gluing images. Both forms have their obvious advantages and disadvantages and it is up to you to decide which way is best suited to your respective teaching situations.

I approached the project in two different manners. The first thing that I put emphasis on was the importance of understanding and using something we can term as a purely visual language. In order to wean students from their very normal dependence on a traditional language to express themselves (normal because we all do so through speech and writing every day), I did exercises with them in which I asked them to put images together in order to create a thought or an idea. A simple example, for instance, is the juxtaposition of a crying baby, a mother holding a baby in her arms, and a smiling baby. With these three images the viewer comes to understand something which should come close to “a baby needs love and care”. The viewer’s understanding of the idea provoked by the images always depends on the viewer’s background and personal worldview of course, and thus no fixed meaning can really be ascribed to the grouped images. Students got the point after a few demonstrations.

The second important facet of the project was based on Sergei Eisenstein’s approach to dialectical montage and the main ideas behind Lev Kuleshov’s experiments with montage and what came to be known as the “Kuleshov Effect”. To demonstrate the powerful potential of montage, I then guided my students through a viewing of Ron Fricke’s 1992 film Baraka, which includes no dialogue at all and which solely depends upon images and a musical score to deliver very meaningful messages on the human condition as well as the beauty and the sad fate of the natural world. I helped my students to understand that the film presents a vision that can be easily likened to a personal worldview. Once this became clear I asked them to think about their own worldviews and what they consist of. The following class students began creating montages based on their worldviews which had to be created with nothing but images. The end result was incredible, as all of my students jumped right into the project and put lots of effort into a project that I can only describe as a complete success! The weeks that they worked on the montage project and the final results were some of the most memorable highlights of my teaching career.

Main objectives, applicable to almost any given educational context:

-To put students into contact with something new and different.
-To get students to create while having fun.
-To get students to discuss and to engage with ideas on a higher intellectual level.
-To get students to express their thoughts and ideas through art.
-To get students to work in a risk-free environment (avoiding fear of failure).
-To make students more aware of their personal worldviews.
-To instill pride in students through the expression of who they are.
-To destabilize students by exposing them to new concepts.

Required materials:

-Examples (posters, books, electronic images, slides, PowerPoint montage).
-Paper or cardboard (recycle old projects when possible).
-Old magazines, books, printed images from the Internet, any other images.
-Scissors, glue, and patience.
-Computer, Internet, a camera, PowerPoint (for PowerPoint version of project).
-Ron Fricke’s Baraka (1992) and a television.
-A good example of a modern montage is Rise Against’s video for “Ready to Fall”. It is available on Youtube (where the quality is terrible) but for the original video you can buy their DVD Generation Lost (2005).

 

 

 

Montage Sample

Montage 1.png
Montage 1.png (567.6 ko)

Me In My Art Classroom

(A long time ago!)

Montage 2.jpg
Montage 2.jpg (23 ko)

Introducation To My Blog

This blog is a new adventure for me. As I mentioned at the end of my presentationThe Art of Destabilization, at SPEAQ 2008 in Quebec City, I am not that computer friendly and admit to having lots to learn. After all, teachers must challenge themselves if they expect their students to do the same.

I created this blog as a simple way to share the main points of my presentation with those who were present. If further interest is generated, and if people seem to see this blog as an opportunity to share thoughts and to discuss collective and personal teaching practices or experiences, I will definitely keep it up to date and let it become whatever it may become.

Let the experiment begin!

Terry Price

Intro

10.JPG
10.JPG (31.4 ko)